Democracy (“rule by the people”) was a system of government invented by the ancient Greeks that reached its most radical form in Classical Athens. Although this radical democracy excluded more than half the Athenian population, it remains an example of how political power can be meaningfully exercised by both rich and poor. Democracy was not exclusive to Athens: many other ancient Mediterranean states used democratic, or semi-democratic, systems, including Syracuse and the Roman republic.

This course will focus on the struggles by ordinary people in ancient Greece and Rome to win their share of political influence.